October 23, 2014 / 6:50 PM / 5 years ago

Six bodies identified after decades in Oklahoma lake

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma authorities have formally identified six people whose bodies were found in a western Oklahoma lake in 2013, bringing a resolution to missing persons mysteries that spanned decades, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner said Thursday.

The bodies were found in September 2013 when Oklahoma Highway Patrol divers stumbled upon two mud and rust-covered vehicles feet apart at the bottom of Foss Lake during tests of new sonar equipment. Each car contained three bodies.

The cause of death for all six was determined to be probable drowning as the result of an accident, spokeswoman Amy Elliott said.The confirmation of identities solves the mystery surrounding the disappearance of three Oklahoma teenagers, who went missing Nov. 20, 1970, while on their way to attend a football game in Elk City, Oklahoma.

Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, Leah Gail Johnson, 18, and Thomas Michael Rios, 18, all of Sayre, were found in a 1969 Camaro.

Three adults reported missing from Canute, Oklahoma in 1969 were recovered from a 1952 Chevrolet and identified using DNA testing, Elliott said. The three have been identified as John Alva Porter, 69, of Elk City, Cleburn Hammack, 42, of Sayre, and Nora Marie Duncan, 58, of Canute, she said.

The two cars were found about three feet apart in about 12 feet of water near the lake’s main concrete boat dock. A road narrows into the dock, which authorities said may explain how the vehicles ended up in the water.

Editing by Kevin Murphy and Eric Walsh

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